The worst prayers in the world

In citing the worst prayers in the world, I start with the thanksgiving of the Pharisee in the Gospel (Luke … Continued

In citing the worst prayers in the world, I start with the thanksgiving of the Pharisee in the Gospel (Luke 18:10). He was thankful he was not like “other people.” His conversation with God was replete with political and religious prejudices against others whom he scorned. It was a bad prayer and you don’t have to take my word for it; listen to Jesus.

Unfortunately, there are Thanksgiving Day prayers that include the same kind of put downs so offensive to Christ. “Thank God we live in the greatest country in the world,” began one such prayer broadcast I heard on radio. The idea was that no one in the United States suffered from hunger or want – unless it was deserved. Similar praise was delivered to the political system of this country — as if no elections had ever been stolen or no politician had ever succumbed to graft or been led astray by bribery. I can’t share this false gloating over the United States because this country squanders its wealth wantonly all too often and doesn’t match up in comparison with other countries which have better health care, education and a superior quality of life.

Now, it is perfectly OK to be thankful for living in the United States, but it would be a form of idolatry to identify this nation with God’s will. While Divine Providence may have worked in the life of a particular individual or a family in this country, it is quite another thing to believe that God designed all of human history by making the United States his perfect model of the Kingdom on earth. A Thanksgiving Day prayer as grace before meals in this troubled year would be truer to the Gospel if it remembered those not so well off and made a commitment to work for social justice in the United States in gratitude for blessings received.

The prayer I heard on the radio was from outside of the Catholic tradition, and I hope that his kind of Thanksgiving Day prayer finds slim picking in Catholic America. At any rate, it qualifies this week as one of the worst prayers in the world.

Number two on the parade list is the so-called “Prayer for Obama,” that cites Psalm 109:8 and applies it to the President:

“Let his days be few; and let another take his office.
Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow.
Let his children be continually vagabonds, and beg:
let them seek their bread also out of their desolate places.
Let the extortioner catch all that he hath; and let the strangers spoil his labor.
Let there be none to extend mercy unto him:
neither let there be any to favor his fatherless children.
Let his posterity be cut off; and in the generation following let their name be blotted out.”

You can buy T-shirts, Teddy bears, trinkets and coffee mugs with this “prayer.”

In biblical terms, this is not a prayer at all, but rather a curse. So here are so called “Christians” spending time and collecting bucks to curse the president of the United States, his wife and innocent children. Some prayer! Certainly, among the worst in the world!

But the granddaddy of bad prayers is, “Allahu Akbar!” uttered before shooting innocent people or setting off bombs to slaughter innocents to advance your own salvation. Such abuse by violence of God’s will was not invented at Fort Hood. After all, General Patton ordered the composition of a prayer for good weather so that thousands of Germans could be bombed. Army sharpshooters – like the famous Alvin York of the First World War – prayed to God for a good aim to kill people. And the tradition goes back to the Crusades and beyond. But the Muslim version is the most current and the one with the least amount of disguise as we approach Thanksgiving 2009. It is quite simply and without equivocation, “The Worst Prayer in the World!”

p.s. I owe the idea of the “world’s worst” to Keith Olbermann of MSNBC. The content here, however, is all my own. Have a Happy Thanksgiving and don’t use bad prayers.

About

Anthony M. Stevens-Arroyo Anthony M. Stevens-Arroyo is Professor Emeritus of Puerto Rican and Latino Studies at Brooklyn College and Distinguished Scholar of the City University of New York.
  • mammyyel

    Wouldn’t it be right to jail those with the Psalm 109:8 prayer since, aren’t they likely to be the kind who feel you oughtn’t to pray for something unless you’re willing to be part of the answer?

  • washpost18

    I start with the thanksgiving of the Pharisee in the Gospel (Luke 18:10). He was thankful he was not like “other people.”

    Why do Christianists enjoy the logical fallacy so much? Here we have two prayers presented that are intrinsically bad, and a third (“God is great”) that Stevens-Arroyo libels as bad via guilt by association/false equivalence (take your choice).Thus by Stevens-Arroyo’s statement, Church of God worshipers are to be considered terrorists. Nice going there Tony, way to make friends and influence people.

  • Jumpy66

    Jail for those who pray Psalm 109:8? Oh… I think they’ll suffer far worse consequences than jail.

  • ccnl1

    The subject of prayer relates directly to the subject of religions and their foundations. And what has history, scriptural text reviews and archeology taught us about these foundations?1. Abraham is the reported founder of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Based on all we know now, Abraham was at best a combination of three separate individuals with 1.5 million Conservative Jews no longer believing he existed at all. (ditto for most of the characters in the OT).references: National Georgraphic review on Abraham and 2. The founders of Christianity and Islam were both illiterate. i.e. neither one proof read or approved the NT or the koran so we are taking the word of scribes and embellishers with their own agendas.references: NT exegetes from the last two hundred years, 3. Christianity is based on the whim of Pilate, the false prophecy of the imminent second coming, and the sword of Constantine. references: NT exegetes and their conclusions/books from the last two hundred yearsConclusion: Jewish, Christian and Islamic prayers have no value other than as mind occupiers.

  • coloradodog

    Catholics should pray for Bishop Tobin of Rhode Island who denies politicians (who don’t kow tow to the Church’s bully theocrats) communion for “the mortal sin of taking communion while in the condition of grave sin” By the Bishop’s definition, he himself is committing the mortal sin of taking communion while in the condition of grave sin still hiding pedophile priests from God and US justice.There are worse things “Christians” do than just utter bad prayers.

  • coloradodog

    hmmm, makes me wonder..If God listens to and answers all prayers, what are His answers to the ones Anthony uses as examples?If I prayed for the Denver Broncos to win and you prayed for the Redskins to win, did God answer your prayer and not mine? Why did he choose yours?If Sarah Palin prays to her God to be on the side of the Christian Oil Crusades and Muslims pray to Allah to smite the infidels, what’s a God to do?Maybe, for once, I agree a little bit with my protagonist ccnl1: “…. prayers have no value other than as mind occupiers” albeit I do believe as “mind occupiers,” they generate hope which is a worthy energy in the universe. So, maybe they do have some value after all unless one hopes for death and misfortune to fall on the family of the President of the United States in the name of poor old Jesus and the Huckabee-sainted Ronald Reagan.

  • spongeworthy68

    A must read on this subject is Mark Twain’s “The War Prayer”

  • abhab1

    Under the title in German of “Muslim teacher” you will see a young boy repeating curses by rote that his imam was very proud to teach and which would put that Pharisee you quoted to shame.

  • colinnicholas

    2″SORDID EVENTS” The Irish report said the Church was “obsessively” concerned with secrecy and operated a policy of “don’t ask, don’t tell” about abuse, though the situation improved after 1996. “Unfortunately, it may be that the very prominent role which the Church has played in Irish life is the very reason why abuses by a minority of its members were allowed to go unchecked,” it said. The government acknowledged the errors of state agencies mentioned in the report. “Whatever the historical and societal reasons for this, the government, on behalf of the state, apologizes without reservation or equivocation for failures … in dealing with this issue,” the justice ministry said in a statement. The Church in Ireland has been plagued by sex scandals for at least two decades. The country was shocked in 1992 when the popular Bishop Eamonn Casey of Galway resigned after an American woman revealed they had a child from a passionate affair. Disclosures in May of decades of floggings, slave labor and gang rape in much of Ireland’s now defunct system of industrial and reform schools earlier in the 20th century shamed Ireland and further eroded the Catholic Church’s moral authority. Work on the latest report, begun in 2006, finished months ago but publication was delayed until the High Court cleared it last week with some details removed because they could jeopardize criminal proceedings. It said some priests had denied the charges against them, but one admitted abusing over 100 children while another said he had abused on a fortnightly basis for over 25 years. The report said state authorities facilitated the cover up of abuse. “The welfare of children … was not even a factor to be considered in the early stages,” it said. (Additional reporting by Padraic Halpin and Tom Heneghan, editing by Mark Trevelyan) It’s never ending. When will we learn?

  • salero21

    .A very very good article Mr. Arroyo. Kudos to you!I think you’ve been accurate in your comparison of the Pharisee in Luke 18:9-14 and the kind of prayers and hate religious rhetoric being heard in some Media and other circles around the Nation. Is such a ridiculous thing beyond human understanding, why would anyone would think that this Country resembles at all a heavenly celestial kingdom.That’s precisely why they forget to pray …”thy kingdom come”. Because they think they already have it. Hypocrisy is running rampant and prevailing across the churches and homes today.Is the home and Kingdom of the Pharisee.Well done!.

  • coloradodog

    ccnl1 writes:The two horrible wrongs of abortion and pedephilic priests are not connected.Oh, really? How’s that? Is abortion a grave sin while pedophile molestation is not?Or is it that the Chruch and condemn others about abortion and not itself with the other?How many archdioces have the same traditions as in Ireland where the priority of the church was “…the maintenance of secrecy, the avoidance of scandal, the protection of the reputation of the Church, and the protection of it’s assets”

  • ccnl1

    For the benefit of the hate-filled Coloradodog:The current status of the horror, scandals and sins of RCC pedophilic priests is reviewed thoroughly at:

  • coloradodog

    For the benefit of the senile ccn1:How many times do you think cutting and pasting the same lame, sniveling excuse for this problem will it take before anyone pays any attention to your redundancy?

  • ivri91208

    Those who profess to follow Christ yet apply this psalm to Obama need to follow the advice Paul gave to the Corinthian church after their behavior seemed to disprove rather than prove that they were disciples of Christ: “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves!” (2Cor 13:5).Even though many Christians do disagree with Obama’s policies (I do), disagreement is a poor excuse for hatred. Jesus said that his disciples would be known to the world by their love for one another, (John 13:35); this includes the President. Christians are to love their enemies (Mt 5:44; cf Rom 12:14), even if their enemies happen to be politicians with whom they disagree. Closer to home, Paul exhorted the Christians at Rome to respect the governing authorities, arguing that no matter who is in office, God has placed him or her there (cf. Romans 13:1-4) with a job to do: punish evil and uphold good. Any Christian who knows his Lord and rightly understands the New Testament will desire to love President Obama as himself, and if any personal disagreement threatens that love, he will be on his knees praying for strength to overcome it. The God of Israel as revealed in Jesus of Nazareth is himself love; anyone who professes to know him must live a life that reflects this love.

  • hitman2

    Abhab1I listen you are badly burnt, are these burnts three degree?

  • ccnl1

    Hmmm, “ivri91208″? Another ID from our favorite “imposter-ing poster”?Please remember this is an anonymous blog and imposters/aliases abound.

  • yastepanov

    Really? The “war prayer” which Patton requested so a swift end could be brought to the war was in the same league as the shouts of a man while shooting at a group of UNARMED individuals?Your sense of scale is at least off by several hundred orders of magnitude.Or have you forgotten that those Germans who Patton wanted to bomb were ARMED and were trying to kill ALLIED FORCES?Or have you forgotten that Germans in the same uniforms slaughtered MILLIONS at Stalingrad, not to mention unarmed Jews, Gypsies, etc. in the camps?You want to rethink this at all?

  • yastepanov

    coloradodog:Not being a person who believes in Religion (God may exist, but we cannot understand a creator of the universe), I would still note that according to most people who believe, God does answer all prayers.He just doesn’t always say “Yes!”

  • BrettT1

    Mr. Arroyo –You have, of course, actually quoted Psalm 109:8-13. If the items you mention cite only verse 8, they they include only the following phrase: “Let his days be few; and let another take his office.” Alvin York applied to be a conscientious objector but was denied the status because his particular church did not have an explicit commitment to pacifism, and he was then drafted. He reported for the draft after spending several nights in prayer about his decision.Your entry demonstrates a cavalier attitude towards accuracy and at best a shallow knowledge of the history about which you write. I’m unlikely to read you regularly either way, but I would hope you commit to improvement in both areas.

  • DoTheRightThing

    I charitably will ascribe Stevens-Arroyo’s slam against General Patton and Alvin York to his ignorance of the hell in which they were living and fighting, instead of to his searching for a soundbyte at the expense of showing respect for US soldiers who risked all for their country. Soldiers with Stevens-Arroyo’s attitude quickly would become immobilized by the ferocity of those conflicts and would get themselves and their fellow soldiers killed to no purpose.

  • ZZMike

    The truth is, that is the worst editorial of 2009.”Unfortunately, there are Thanksgiving Day prayers that include the same kind of put downs so offensive to Christ. “Thank God we live in the greatest country in the world,”…Perhaps you can suggest another? China? Cuba? Venezuela?”… The idea was that no one in the United States suffered from hunger or want – unless it was deserved. “It does no such thing. The idea is that in this country, anybody can rise to be President – even if he doesn’t deserve it.It means that anyone can rise to the top in business – consider Steve Jobs, for one. He wasn’t born a CEO.”… other countries which have better health care, education and a superior quality of life.”Once again, Cuba? China? Sweden? Of course you can’t name any, you can only repeat the distorted facts you’ve heard on NPR and CNN.”You can buy T-shirts, Teddy bears, trinkets and coffee mugs with this “prayer.” Maybe you can, but I can’t – at least, I can’t find them on the Web. And it would have to be a pretty big trinket or coffe mug to hold that much of the Psalm.”In biblical terms, this is not a prayer at all, but rather a curse.”Are you trying to tell us that Psalm 109 is curse? God forbid that it should be in the Bible.”After all, General Patton ordered the composition of a prayer for good weather so that thousands of Germans could be bombed.”So did Joshua. To put the villain Hasan in the same paragraph as Patton and York is unconscionable.But at least you recognize the infamy of “Allahu Akbar.”I heartily endorse 109:8 (“May his days be few! May another take his job!”) In less than a year, he has brought the country past the brink of financial ruin, he’s taken over one of the country’s largest auto-makers, he’s aligned himself with scurrilous organizations like ACORN and the SEIU, and now he wants to ram a financially irresponsible health-care bill, one filled with egregious pork-barrel payoffs, down our throats.

  • StewartIII

    Creative Minority Report: Gen. Patton Like Nidal Hasan…or Something

  • LogicalSC

    Why are such vile insane people allowed to write articles for the Washington Post?Damn, you people are some sick pieces of crap.But of course, this idiot Leftist knows nothing about Alvin York but I bet he can tell everyone about the color of Bill Clinton’s panties and Albert Gore’s bra. Alvin York was a humble poor farmer from Tennessee who was conscripted by the god father of this sick Leftists entire ideology, Woodrow Wilson. York, being a born again Christian, wrestled with the teachings of the Bible not to murder and the idea of fighting against the Germans. In the end, York chose to fulfill what he thought was his duty to his country and went to Europe. In an ensuing battle, Alvin York captured and killed nearly 200 Germans by himself. When asked how he a man who objected to killing could have performed such acts, he honestly said that “the Germans were killing his buddies and someone had to stop them from doing that? He was given the Congressional Medal of Honor for exposing himself to over 25 machinegun nest. A common man in an extreme situation who placed his faith in a higher being over his own life for the benefit of his comrades. You can bet that Mr. Arroyo wouldn’t risk his sorry arse in a similar manner.How big a piece of crap does a man have to be to compare the actions of a man such as that to the terrorist who walked into a group of unarmed men and women with weapons and opened fire?It is time that someone give you the General Patton treatment, you POS.

  • bobmoses

    Typical liberal crap that you expect to find on this blog dedicated to liberal contempt for America and religion.

  • LA_screenwriter

    This has to be one of the DUMBEST editorials I’ve read in a long time, propped up by some of the most eye-rolling and ridiculous logic ever, which was generated by the writer for no other reason than to support his own conditional arguments in a pre-determined and selective manner. In other words, he’s more than willing to brush actual truth aside to try and make a point.As a prime example, citing the incident of General Patton asking an army chaplain to create a special prayer “so that thousands of Germans could be bombed” is a completely laughable line, not to mention a total FABRICATION of the actual historical events that transpired.For the record, the REASON that Patton asked for a special prayer to be created is because recent weather had been atrociously bad, so much so that it was holding back Allied forces. Furthermore, Stevens-Arroyo is looking at this backwards. Patton was NOT asking for bad weather and lightning bolts from God to smite the enemy down. He was simply asking for good weather so that conditions would be better on the ground and thus SAVE American infantry lives as they proceeded along.Plus, Stevens-Arroyo is completely sweeping aside and outright distorting historical fact to make his point. To describe Patton’s action (or the newly crafted prayer) as seeking “the deaths of thousands of Germans” is groan-inducing to say the least. In fact, let’s set the record straight. We’re NOT talking about German CIVILIANS here, as the writer would have you believe. The people Patton was praying against…that he was literally in a field of combat against…WERE FREAKING NAZIS. You know, those guys who actually DID slaughter and maim innocent Europeans on their march to power and who actually DID send MILLIONS of Jews and others to their deaths in gas chambers and prison camps.Seriously, if this is the way Stevens-Arroyo feels, then at the very least have the backbone and integrity to state you are 100% anti-war across the board and in every single way. That you believe NO war and NO bloodshed is ever justified, under any conditions. But frankly, I think that ultra pacifist stance would be a pretty hard sell since (1) most people do BELIEVE there are some things, some ideals, worth fighting for, such as preserving the sanctity of life… and (2) even the Bible itself is filled with tales of bloody conflict that were deemed necessary by a Higher Power, so people COULD rise up to separate true goodness from abominable evil.It’s too bad Stevens-Arroyo, blinded by his own beliefs, cannot seem to comprehend such an obvious point.

  • TheMadKing

    To paraphrase Gen. Blood and Guts Patton, “Those liberals at the Washington Post know about as much about real prayer as they do about fornicating.” To associate Patton’s prayer for good weather to help defeat the most foul and genocidal dictatorship in human history to Nadal Hasan’s slaughtering of thirteen unarmed soldiers shows both an incredible ignorance of history and a callous disregard for the lives of our soldiers, who protect his right to spew his anti-Christian, anti-soldier and anti-American venom with their very lives.If this is not a classic example of how liberalism is a mental disorder, I don’t know what is. I actually hope Mr. Stevens-Arroyo keeps opining. Part of the value of the First Amendment is to allow the insane to rant so that we know who they are. As an aside, isn’t it women who usually have hyphenated names? I’d say that perfectly suits this girlie-man, except that would be an insult to girls. Espcially the ones in uniform.

  • TheMadKing

    I have to add. This is a classic example of why MSM outlets like the WaPo are staring into the abyss of media extinction. They hire statist propagandists to report All The News To Print That Fits, near-Satanists to post opeds on religion, and reserve their true religious fervor to report on President Obama, healthcare and Cap-and-Tax, issues that actually require the greatest objectivity. But when since Watergate has the WaPo been about the news? I guarantee you, if they reported on ClimateGate like they did Watergate, business would be booming. Unfortunately for us, there are larger issues than the news at stake here for WaPo. I just wish its extinction would be far quicker and less painful. Drawn-out and torturous dying convulsions like this POS oped are killing us all. DIE, WAPO, DIE! And take your Christian-hating religious columnists with you!

  • AnnoyedMan

    Another piece of leftist moral equivalence.I would ask Mr. Arroyo how many prisoners did General Patton take? How many prisoners did Alvin York take? How many prisoners did Nidal Hasan take? What does he think that Jesus would have to say about justice for the unborn?MAMMYEL, we have a 1st Amendment so that A) you may speak freely for jailing the religious for praying according to their conscience; and B) to protect the religious from people like you. The difference between a liberal and a conservative is that a conservative will give his life to preserve ALL of a liberal’s rights, whereas a liberal believes that rights apply only selectively to conservatives — to be determined by liberals.The Psalm 109:8 prayer is foolishness, not because it is wrong to ask God to remove a bad president from office, but because it is always bad policy to take scripture out of context. I can’t stand this president’s policies, but I pray for him. I pray that God will grant this president some wisdom and discernment, because the evidence is that he is sorely lacking in both. Likewise, MAMMYEL, I pray that God will cause you to remember that the Constitution, ALL of it, applies to each and everyone of us, even those with whom we disagree.

Read More Articles

Screenshot 2014-04-23 11.40.54
Atheists Bad, Christians Good: A Review of “God’s Not Dead”

A smug Christian movie about smug atheists leads to an inevitable happy ending.

shutterstock_134310734
Ten Ways to Make Your Church Autism-Friendly

The author of the Church of England’s autism guidelines shares advice any church can follow.

Valle Header Art
My Life Depended on the Very Act of Writing

How I was saved by writing about God and cancer.

shutterstock_188545496
Sociologist: Religion Can Predict Sexual Behavior

“Religion and sex are tracking each other like never before,” says sociologist Mark Regnerus.

5783999789_9d06e5d7df_b
The Internet Is Not Killing Religion. So What Is?

Why is religion in decline in the modern world? And what can save it?

concert
Why I Want to Be Culturally Evangelical

I’ve lost my faith. Do I have to lose my heritage, too?

shutterstock_37148347
What Is a Saint?

How the diversity of saintly lives reveals multiple paths toward God.

987_00
An Ayatollah’s Gift to Baha’is, Iran’s Largest Religious Minority

An ayatollah offers a beautiful symbolic gesture against a backdrop of violent persecution.

river dusk
Cleaner, Lighter, Closer

What’s a fella got to do to be baptized?

shutterstock_188022491
Magical Thinking and the Canonization of Two Popes

Why Pope Francis is canonizing two popes for all of the world wide web to see.

Pile_of_trash_2
Pope Francis: Stop the Culture of Waste

What is the human cost of our tendency to throw away?

chapel door
“Sometimes You Find Something Quiet and Holy”: A New York Story

In a hidden, underground sanctuary, we were all together for a few minutes in this sweet and holy mystery.

shutterstock_178468880
Mary Magdalene, the Closest Friend of Jesus

She’s been ignored, dismissed, and misunderstood. But the story of Easter makes it clear that Mary was Jesus’ most faithful friend.

sunset-hair
From Passover to Easter: Why I’m Grateful to be Jewish, Christian, and Alive

Passover with friends. Easter with family. It’s almost enough to make you believe in God.

colbert
Top 10 Reasons We’re Glad A Catholic Colbert Is Taking Over Letterman’s “Late Show”

How might we love Stephen Colbert as the “Late Show” host? Let us count the ways.

emptytomb
God’s Not Dead? Why the Good News Is Better than That

The resurrection of Jesus is not a matter of private faith — it’s a proclamation for the whole world.

shutterstock_186795503
The Three Most Surprising Things Jesus Said

Think you know Jesus? Some of his sayings may surprise you.

egg.jpg
Jesus, Bunnies, and Colored Eggs: An Explanation of Holy Week and Easter

So, Easter is a one-day celebration of Jesus rising from the dead and turning into a bunny, right? Not exactly.